What Is a Wiki?

A wiki is a website where many people can add information for the benefit of all. Wikipedia is an example of a wiki--it is an encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. Here is a video that explains wikis. Click on the video to watch it on Youtube. By the way, wiki is a Hawaiian word meaning "fast."

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Introduction to the Literacy Methods Wiki

The above is an mp3 file of the text below. This is an effort to make getting this information comfortable for all people regardless of their preferences for the intake of information (reading, listening, online, offline, etc.).

Thanks to students of ours who wanted structure and definite information in the literacy methods courses we teach at Capital University, we decided to assemble and write out everything we can think of that might be useful to teachers of all stripes--pre-service teachers, student teachers, first year teachers, and even very experienced teachers. We had our students add some things, although we are trying to figure out how to make the experience of adding things more intuitive and inviting (this is an invitation right here to let us know what might work!)

At first we conceived of the work as a textbook, but in our writing, we find ourselves distancing ourselves from the idea of a textbook per se, a collection of texts which everyone in a whole class is expected to read in a particular order. We had the epiphany that teachers are more like engineers, particularly traffic engineers, than we had ever supposed and we began to think of this wiki as a road map with a bunch of interesting destinations through which each student travels at his or her own pace and based on his or her own interest.

So now, we have what could be called an encyclopedia in terms of the scope of material we are in the process of including. Most people use the encyclopedia as a reference work and they wander through it based on interest or need. That is what we want our readers to do--to read with a self-defined purpose rather than a teacher-defined purpose. We believe that self-defined reading purposes are not just something literacy teachers should read about in a literacy textbook at the behest of a professor in a college class but that we should be practicing what we hope our students do and we should be developing the teaching methodologies that ensure students get the information and skills they need but in a way that is most congruent with their interests and needs.

All people, whether connected to Capital University or not, are invited to be a part of this wiki. We are keeping it on a public space so that its resources will be available to any teacher who is interested but particularly for the teachers who have been through our courses and want an occasional review of things or want to see what we are up to. We plan for this to be a work in progress for a long time to come.

Tobie Sanders and Carolyn Osborne, wiki coordinators

Originally this wiki was part of a massive wiki that Carolyn ran, but as upload space began to run out, she transferred it to its own wiki space.
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How to use this wiki

College provides you with two things, which, at times, are at odds with one another.

One thing you get from a college education is a set of credentials--a teaching license. In order to get this license, you have to take certain classes, pass certain national tests, and have certain field experiences. Whether or not you learn anything in this process doesn't matter as long as you jump the necessary hoops. National exams can determine whether you have memorized a certain body of information and have good test-taking skills; they cannot determine how much you have actually learned (as in developing new ideas that change how you think about the world).

The second thing you get from college, and even more so from graduate school, is the opportunity for self-directed learning. This is the gift from college that we think is the most important. It is what can make you so excited about learning that your students will get excited about it. It is what helps you to become everything you can be as a teacher. Self-directed learning is the foundation for lifelong learning. It allows you to set the example your students will follow. If they see that you learn and you direct your own learning, they will be likely to start to do the same thing.

Unfortunately, the overemphasis on the credentialling aspect of education has overshadowed self-directed learning. Yet because of the technological revolution, self-directed learning is going to make a comeback in the next ten years. Here is a paper that explains why:

In the interest of encouraging intrinsic motivation and in preparing you to be a teacher who successfully leads the transition into the digital world, the focus of all our classes is self-directed learning.

Yet this concept is uncomfortable for a lot of people. It is understandable to want to gain a certain body of knowledge after a class, particularly a body of knowledge you know you will need as a teacher. In fact, we have put together this encyclopedia for that particular purpose. Here is the body of knowledge you need and want.

ONLY...We believe that the model of teaching has changed. Selander (in the paper above) suggests that we are moving from having a body of knowledge to teach in a series of discrete lessons (a curriculum, accompanied by a textbook and a bunch of lectures) to "designs for learning."

This encyclopedia is a "design for learning." It consists of multiple forms of information designed to meet the needs of a wide range of people. After all, it is our resource for Ed 214 (Integrating the Arts in the Elementary Classroom), Ed 314 and 316 (Junior Block Literacy Methods), Ed 317 (Reading for Learning for music education students) and Adolescent and Children's Literature in the Music Classroom (part of the Master of Music program here at Capital). The students served by this resource range from first year students to graduate students, and from people with no experience in education to people who have taught for several years.

Rather than wasting some people's time with repetition by insisting that a whole classroom full of students read the same section, we want to do something diffferent.

First of all, while we have done a lot of writing and collecting of material on this, this resource belongs to you and it will continue to belong to you as long as you want it. This is why it is on a public wiki page instead of a private Capital University page that is no longer accessible after you graduate.

We WANT you to add to this resource. When you add things that you think are useful, you are helping out other students. You are also inspiring everyone who is involved with this wiki. You are bringing things to this wiki that we were not able to imagine and yet these things are a contribution and absolutely necessary.

Secondly, we want you to treat this encyclopedia as a territory to explore. Where do you need to go in this territory? Where do you want to go? Once you have been one place, where is the next logical place to go? What will you build in this territory?

There are two ways through any class that uses this wiki. One is a prescribed list of topics to cover, each of which has some activities that allow you to apply the information. Below are links to classes and each class has the prescribed list. This choice is for people who need the class and want a pre-made path through the material. The other way is through blazing your own trail either by mapping out a process at the beginning of the school term or by wandering.

In the prescribed version, grades are based on completion of the activities and a project that brings together the course as a whole. In the exploration version, grades are based on activities and a project of your choice, however, you are free to negotiate a different set of activities and also the ways in which you are accountable for your work in the class.

In all instances, activities that a large group of people want to do can become group or whole-class projects.

Proceed to Capital University for information related to each course.
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Other Interesting Educational Wikis

We aren't the only ones with teaching-related wikis. Below are other groups' wikis that are of interest:
Grand Forks (I don't know where this is) Public Schools literacy wiki. There are a lot of resources on this wiki for teaching literacy.

This wiki deals with adult literacy. It has a lot of resources which are probably helpful across the board but particularly for helping adults learn to read and write.

Information technology and computer literacy


Here is another amazing wiki: